Influenza is a virus that causes illness that can vary from mild to severe. The flu can cause dangerous complications for infants, pregnant women, anyone with a chronic illness, the elderly and sometimes even healthy children or adults.

The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months old and older. The only way to protect infants is to immunize everyone else in the home even non-live-in housekeepers. The flu vaccine is particularly important for anyone with chronic illness (such as asthma), pregnant women and the elderly.

The injectable flu vaccine is developed using killed virus and does not cause the flu. Most people experience no side effects, although soreness at the injection site, fever and body aches occasionally occur. Allergic or more serious reactions are extremely rare. Anyone with severe egg allergy or a high fever should not be immunized.

Flumist is developed using live, weakened virus and is administered by spraying a small amount of liquid vaccine into the front of each nostril. Flumist is safe and very effective for ages 2-49, but is not yet licensed for anyone considered at high risk for complications from the flu.

A new flu vaccine is formulated each year to match the strains of flu that are most likely to circulate in the upcoming flu season. This year the flu vaccine contains two strains of seasonal flu that differ from the strains included in the vaccine the past two years and the H1N1 flu strain that has been in the vaccine since 2010.

Children less then 9 years old who have not had two doses of the flu vaccine since July 1, 2010 need 2 doses of this year’s vaccine one month apart. Older children, adults and children who were vaccinated twice since July 2010 need one dose.

Multiple scientific studies and an extensive review by the Institute of Medicine have shown no evidence of adverse health effects due to thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative. Nevertheless, New York State Public Health Law prohibits the administration of vaccines containing more than trace amounts of thimerosal to children less than 3 years of age and to women who know they are pregnant. The injectable flu vaccine for children under 3 years old and Flumist are thimerosal-free. In addition, our office has a supply of thimerosal-free vaccine for pregnant women.

RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) causes bronchiolitis, a wintertime lung infection that affects babies and very young children. Premature babies are at highest risk for serious illness and hospitalization. If your baby was born prematurely, please call our office and request information about Synagis, the RSV vaccine.

We have set aside blocks of time so that one of our doctors or nurses can immunize all of our patients and their parents who want to be immunized. During these “Flu clinics” discussions must be limited to the Flu vaccine. If you have any other questions, a regular office visit will be required. If the doctor giving flu vaccines does not have the time to accommodate you, we may ask you to wait to see one of our other doctors.

Our office charges a $25 administrative fee when vaccines are given. This fee is waived if the vaccine is administered at a well visit or sick visit. At these visits your regular co-pay applies. For an appointment for the flu vaccine please call our office.

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